Monday, December 22, 2014

Putting my best foot forward

This photo was taken last Sunday during our weekly rehab walk. Until recently, I couldn't ascend or descent stairs, even a short flight like this one. I still need a railing, though.

From the beginning of my rehabilitation, much of my physical therapy has come from simply trying to do things I always took for granted. When I started to grow sprouts, for instance, I found it difficult to do without carrying the sprouts and the water containers to sink with both hands, so I started to walking the few feet to the sink without my walker or cane. Now I do it all the time, although I look a bit like Frankenstein testing out his newly grafted legs when I do it. My right leg continues to be weaker than my left leg, though I'm strongly right-handed (and right-legged).

According to my neurologist, this weakness is due to my six-week coma, not the multiple strokes on both sides of my brain. It could've been caused by something as simple as the way I was a lying during the coma. At any rate, my right leg has gotten quite a bit stronger, though it still feels slightly numb. And when I walk on it unaided, I come down on it heavily. Though I walk much more smoothly with a cane, I suspect that the short stints of walking unsupported has helped my right leg. When I was in the nursing home, the leg felt like it was a solid block of ice. And yet, I was also experiencing extremely painful spasms in the foot. I started asking my loved ones to massage the foot, which usually helped but sometimes made the spasms worse. The foot was both sensitive and numb. I was given some medicines to reduce the spasms and pain. I was already taking one of them, and the second drug may have helped a little. Eventually, I bought some vibrating slippers, and they eased the pain quite a bit. My neurologist thinks this may be because they distracted the nerves.

I still use the slippers now, though less and less frequently. Mostly, I'm using them for comfort when I'm sleeping because they're soothing. But I don't really need them anymore. The spasms are finally gone.

1 comment:

Thank you for your comment!

Contact me!

Name

Email *

Message *

Follow by Email

Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.